Are you ready to travel? Do you need a vacation? Aruba may just be the answer !
This Dutch Caribbean Island lies just 14 miles off the coast of Venezuela, putting it south of the hurricane belt. Aruba and it’s sister islands of Bonaire and Curaçao ( the ABC islands) are known for their year round tropical climate, cooling trade winds and beautiful white sand beaches. If it sounds just about perfect, well it is!
The island of Aruba is currently open to travelers with many precautions and safeguards in place to protect both residents and visitors. In this installment, I will share all the information and inspiration you need to plan your Aruba escape !
Traveling at this time of Covid-19 requires some extra effort and the first step is to do your research. Regardless of destination, a simple Google search should usually give you most of not all the info you need on your destinations’ requirements and/or restrictions, health policies etc and what you need to do to return home.
For Aruba specifically, you should visit Aruba.com. The island has really done a great job in providing clear and concise instructions as well as taking responsible safety precautions.
Current guidelines to date ( April 20,2021) require all visitors to either produce a negative Nasal Molecular PCR test administered within 72-12 hours of your flight..if your trip is multi leg, it should be within 72 hours of the last leg of your travel, OR you can opt to take a Covid test upon arrival at the airport. If you choose to test on arrival, you must quarantine in your accommodations until a negative result is confirmed, I’m told typically within 12 hrs. I personally don’t know why someone would opt for the latter..not only are you potentially putting others on your flight in danger, you risk spending your entire vacation in quarantine should you test positive.
Once you have your negative test result you can proceed to fill out the mandatory Aruba ED Card ( Embarkation/Debarkation) online, the link is found at Aruba.com. This process can only be started within 3 days of your arrival in Aruba, so plan your testing accordingly.
The online card is simple to fill out and will prompt you to upload a photo of your negative PCR test results after completing a health assessment portion. Once you’ve loaded your test results you should receive a green ✅ on the next screen. After that, you will be prompted to purchase the mandatory Aruba Insurance. This is currently a flat $30 per person fee that will cover a one way transfer and accommodations for quarantine should you test positive while on the island. Make sure to keep a photo of your negative test results accessible on your phone AND I highly recommend printing out your lab results as well as your green ✅ page from your ED card. You will be asked to present your ✅ when checking in for your flight before boarding. You will also need to show this and your test results upon arrival in Aruba.
Upon arrival in Aruba, you will show all necessary documentation and if all is in order, you will be given 2 items. A laminated bookmark size card to turn in as you exit the airport and a small credit card size business card that you MUST present at your accommodations…hang on to that card to avoid hassle! If you opted to test upon arrival in Aruba, or if for some reason your test/results are not acceptable, you will be directed to a separate Medical Testing Line . Have both your cards and you are now ready to ENJOY your vacation!
There are two main beaches that cater to vacationers, Eagle Beach and Palm Beach and it really comes down to personal preference which to choose. Eagle Beach tends to have a more laid back feel with low rise resorts , while Palm Beach has more action, more shops & restaurants and several high rise hotels.
Our Perfect Escape
There is no lack of accommodations in Aruba. Whether you prefer a luxury high rise hotel, a sprawling All Inclusive resort, a time share apartment, a boutique hotel or an Airbnb, there is truly something for everyone! In previous visits we had stayed in a high rise hotel on Palm Beach, a low rise resort on Eagle Beach and a timeshare complex . We enjoyed each of our choices!
For this quick 5 day get away, I was excited to experience the lush and intimate Boardwalk Aruba boutique hotel!
With 46 private casitas nestled among gardens on the grounds of a former coconut plantation , the Boardwalk Aruba is the perfect spot to relax, recharge and stay safe. All casitas have their own private entrances, meaning no crowded lobby to walk through, no elevators etc. and their own outdoor space. We had a lovely covered front patio set with a table and chairs where we enjoyed our morning coffee and breakfast. Each casita has a well equipped kitchenette with a microwave, coffee maker, mini fridge and even stove top burners, making it a great choice for those with children or on a budget. There’s even a charcoal grill!
Located across the street from Palm Beach…it’s about a 3-5 min walk, the hotel has its own Beach area adjacent to the Ritz Carleton , with palapas and loungers for guests. You can even use the Ritz beach bar service at a very nice 15% discount!
Probably the best day of our trip was spent with RJ of Aruba Outdoor Adventures . If you’re looking for a fun excursion with a knowledgeable guide, look no further! Check the website for a full listing of all the kayak and snorkel tours offered. I can guarantee you will have a memorable time and feel as though you’ve made a friend!
If you’re planning to explore the island , which I highly recommend, you will want a rental car for at least part of your stay. We used Yess Car Rental and were very pleased with price, service and the vehicle.
Places to visit include:
- The California Lighthouse ( sunset drinks at Faro Blanco Restaurant are perfect)
- Arikok National Park
- Downtown Oranjestad ( some great restaurants)
- Colorful San Nicolas
- Baby Beach ( great for young children and snorkeling)
There are no shortage of excursions available on Aruba. Some of the most popular are sailing, catamaran and snorkel cruises, and off road ATV / UTV tours.
After all that lounging or exploring, you’re bound to be hungry. Well you came to the right island ! Of all the islands I have visited, Aruba seems to have the most variety and quantity of restaurants. There is basically something for everyone regardless of budget. You will find everything from food trucks serving tacos by the beach to 5 star gourmet tasting menus.
In my opinion Aruba has become one of the most commercialized Islands that I’ve visited…some people love that they can shop designer stores and find familiar chain restaurants. Personally, I prefer a more authentic experience. There are plenty of fabulous Aruban owned restaurants and businesses to visit. On this trip, our favorite meal and over all dining experience was at Barefoot Restaurant located directly on the beach . Their sister restaurant Quinta del Carmen also gets rave reviews.
Other restaurants to try for local cuisine are:
- Taste My Aruba
- Flying Fishbone
- Old Man and the Sea
- Chalet Suisse
Be advised that current Covid-19 protocols allow for only 2 diners per table unless staying under one roof together . There is also a 10pm curfew in place, with restaurants closing at 9pm to allow patrons time to be back at their accommodations by 10pm. The beaches are currently closed from 7pm to 5am as well. Individual hotels and resorts my serve their own guests beyond the 10pm curfew only on the hotel grounds.
All good things must come to an end, and these days it takes a little extra planning. Again, I have to applaud the government of Aruba for really making things as easy and streamlined as possible to welcome visitors during these uncertain times. In order to return to the US, all travelers are required to test negative for Covid-19 within 72 hours of your departure flight. Both an Antigen test or a PCR test are acceptable.
This is a United States federal requirement, the only exceptions are if you are recently recovered from Covid, you must have a signed Doctor’s letter stating that you are cleared to fly ( patients can still test positive long after recovered, so a test would not be an accurate measure of illness). This also applies to entering Aruba, if you’ve had Covid within 12 weeks of travel, you will need a Doctor’s letter in place of the negative test.
To expedite the return testing process, many of the larger hotels offer on site testing for their guests. Contact your hotel or resort for more information. If it’s not available on site or you’re staying in a rental home, there are several options available. Check the http://www.aruba.com site for a complete listing, with pricing and up to date information.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our quick Aruba escape, I know that we certainly did!
Ciao for Now…